Immigration and Refugee Resettlement
Working toward fair and just immigration and refugee policies is important to the profession of social work and essential to the realization of human rights. Social workers recognize migration as a complex social, cultural, and political process.
In the many roles played by social workers, as both policy advocates and direct service providers, we impact immigrant and refugee populations and policy. Social workers may design and coordinate community support programs for refugee families both in the U.S. and in other countries, advocate for stronger refugee resettlement services or carry out research. In the U.S., social workers assist newly arrived refugees in roles such as resettlement caseworkers or job developers. Internationally, social workers may work with a humanitarian aid organization and coordinate psychosocial programs for children in refugee camps or work for an organization such as UNICEF or the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to affect policy and design programs.
Social workers are often stopped from effectively assisting clients due to punitive laws and policies denying access to needed resources. Social workers should become familiar with the dynamics of migration as well as the implications of immigration policy on individuals and families in order to effectively support immigrants and refugees in the U.S. and internationally.
Social Work and Refugees
- International Federation of Social Workers Policy Statement on Refugees
- 2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons and The State of The World's Refugees 2006: Human Displacement in the New Millennium from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
- UN High Commissioner for Refugees
- U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Social Work and Global Migration
- International Federation of Social Workers Policy Statement on Migration
- International Detention Coalition - This organization protects the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers worldwide that are held in detention facilities awaiting immigration hearings.
- The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide.
Social Work and Internally Displaced Persons
- International Federation of Social Workers Policy Statement on Displaced Persons
- Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement – This UN document calls upon the humanitarian community to protect the rights of forcibly displaced persons. These guiding principles call for health, psychological, and social services during displacement as well as freedom from discrimination relating to circumstances of displacement.
NASW Information and Advocacy on Immigration and Refugees
- The Impact of Immigration Detention on Children and Families (2011)
- NASW Policy Statement on Immigrants and Refugees
- Definitions and Research on Refugee Populations
- NASW President’s Initiative: Weaving the Fabric of Diversity Immigration Policy Toolkit
- Practice Update: Meeting the Needs of Immigrant Children and Youth in Child Welfare
- NASW Human Rights Update on the DREAM Act: Social Workers Support Young Immigrants’ DREAMs
- NASW Alerts
- NASW News Articles Related to Immigration
Resources for Working with Immigrant and Refugee Populations
- A Social Worker’s Toolkit for Working with Immigrant Families - Written by the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, this 21-page tool kit is intended to provide public child welfare workers with a basic overview of the dynamics of the U.S. immigration system as it impacts their clients.
- Child Welfare Training Curricula for Staff Working with Refugees and Immigrants – This site published by Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services offers multiple training resources for staff encountering immigrant and refugee children.
- Facing Our Future: Children in the Aftermath of Immigration Enforcement – This report from the Urban Institute examines the consequences of parental arrest, detention, and deportation on children, providing in-depth details on parent-child separations, economic hardships, and children's well-being.
- How Social Workers Help: Working with Immigrants Who Have HIV/AIDS - This informational document from HelpStartsHere.org highlights the role of social workers in assisting immigrants living with HIV/AIDS.
U.S. Immigration and Refugee Resettlement
U.S. Immigration and Refugee Coalitions
- Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services provides national technical assistance to organizations serving refugees and immigrants so that all newcomer children and youth can reach their potential.
- Detention Watch Network on Human Rights and Immigration Detention is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to educate the public and policy makers about the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocates for humane reform so that all who come to our shores receive fair and humane treatment.
- Refugee Council USA is a coalition of U.S. non-governmental organizations focused on refugee protection.
- The National Immigration Forum is an immigrant advocacy organization in the U.S. with a mission to advocate for the value of immigrants and immigration to the nation.